Do I need to feed my bees this time of year? This is an established hive, but I'm new to bee keeping.
Do I need to feed my bees this time of year? This is an established hive, but I'm new to bee keeping.
If your bees still have some stores there's no need to feed.
Trying to think inside the box...
Are you treating for Nosema? Feed one gallon per hive with Fumigilin in the Spring. I also put a cap full of Honey-B-Healthy.
Not treating for anything.
Mayday- How much fumigilin do you mix with your gallon of feed? juzzer
depends on your goal and how well your watching the hive. I feed the heck out of them until I am ready to super. I want a huge full hive BEFORE the honey flow really starts... but you also have to be on top swarms...... As for the food in the hive... its not much help for buildup.... the look for nectar. If I set 1-1 and honey side by side, they take the 1-1 first always...
Feeding your bees syrup in the Spring will also stimulate your Queen to ramp up her egg production. Temperature will dictate if you use a 1:1 or 2:1 mix.
I put quart jars of 1:1 on my hives yesterday. I know that they did not store much honey last fall because of the drought.
I've had two of my twelve hives starve already this spring. Last fall I put 12 -15 pounda of damp granular sugar (to make a brick) on each hive - yesteday most of the hives still had 3 to 4 pounds of sugar. But two were dead in the cells even with the sugar block.
I think that he bees need 1:1 (like nector) this time of year.
All "should I feed" questions have one answer.
Are they hungry?
The same goes for "should I treat"
Are they sick?
If they have honey, and do not appear sick they need neither food or medicine.
In the words of the old saint, George Imerie, bees don't need honey in the spring, they need nectar. I would say feed, unless you have fresh nectar coming in. If the weather is still cold and rainy and the bees all stuck in a hive, I'd feed to get them through until the real nectar flows. If you are starting a package and fear you lack adequate field bees to bring back sufficient nectar to support the queen's egg laying potential, yeah...feed.
Feeding stimulates the queen to lay. However, feeding without giving more room/frames to store the syrup will cause congestion (competition between cell space to store nectar and for the queen to lay eggs) and you have a recipe for swarming.
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If you wait for your bees to show signs of sickness or hunger before you act, then your bees are doomed.
Unless you are installing packaged bees into a hive with all drawn comb, you need to feed them so that they can produce wax.
right wrong or indifferent. I only feed candy boards on the established hives in late fall and check if it is gone in early spring when it warms up enough. If more is needed, then I add. I only do syrup if I have to in the fall. I try to leave more honey than needed so they can use that in the spring to start brood with.
Just an idea here.
Feeding or not depends on the condition of your hive. Look at the outside environment to see what is
blooming for their food source.
1) If enough pollen/honey coming in do not feed them.
2) Not enough food reserves then feed both syrup and patty.
3) If the hive is booming while collecting nectar and pollen then do not feed.
4) If the hive show no activity then feed, feed and feed some more.
5) If the hive almost ready to swarm then do not need to feed.
6) If the hive is raising broods and not enough food reserves then feed feed feed some more.
Feeding depends on inside hive condition(foods) versus outside available forage sources. If you see your
hive inside full of nectar and pollen all packed then don't need to feed them. If low on reserves then must
feed them now.
Don't let what might be best prevent you from doing what will work.
"Q. When is the best time to feed the bees?
"A. The best thing is never to feed them, but let them gather their own stores. But if the season is a failure, as it is some years in most places, then you must feed. The best time for that is just as soon as you know they will need feeding for winter; say in August or September. October does very well, however, and even if you haven't fed until December, better feed then than to let the bees starve."
--C.C. Miller, A Thousand Answers to Beekeeping Questions, 1917
In my opinion there are many reasons to avoid feeding if you can. It sets off robbing. It attracts pests (ants, wasps, yellow jackets etc.) It clogs the brood nest and sets off swarming. It drowns a lot of bees.
Some people feed a package constantly for the first year. In my experience this usually results in them swarming when they are not strong enough and often failing. Some feed spring, fall and dearth regardless of stores. Some don't believe in feeding at all. Some steal all the honey in the fall and try to feed them back up enough to winter.
Personally I don't feed if there is a nectar flow. Gathering nectar is what bees do. They should be encouraged to do it. I will feed in the spring if they are light, as they will not rear brood without sufficient stores to do it with. I will feed in the fall if they are light, but I always try to make sure I don't take too much honey and leave them light. Some years, though, the fall flow fails and they are on the verge of starvation if I don't feed. When queen rearing, during a dearth, I sometimes have to feed to get them to make cells and to get the queens to fly out and mate. So while I do try to avoid feeding, I end up doing it very often. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with feeding if you have a good reason for doing it, but my plan is to try to avoid it and leave the bees enough to live on.
Pollen is usually fed before the first available pollen in the spring. Here (Greenwood, Nebraska) that would be about mid February. I have not had luck getting bees to take it any other time.
Many of the greats of beekeeping have decided this is not productive:
"The reader will by now have drawn the conclusion that stimulative feeding, apart from getting the foundations drawn out in the brood chamber, plays no part in our scheme of bee-keeping. This is in fact so." --Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey, Brother Adam
"Very many, at the present time, seem to think that brood rearing can be made to forge ahead much faster by feeding the bees a teacupful of thin sweet every day than by any other method; but from many experiments along this line during the past thirty years I can only think this a mistaken idea, based on theory rather than on a practical solution of the matter by taking a certain number of colonies in the same apiary, feeding half of them while the other half are left "rich" in stores, as above, but without feeding and then comparing "notes" regarding each half, thus determining which is the better to go into the honey harvest...results show that the "millions of honey at our house" plan followed by what is to come hereafter, will outstrip any of the heretofore known stimulating plans by far in the race for bees in time for the harvest." --A Year's work in an Out Apiary, G.M. Doolittle.
"Probably the single most important step in management for achieving colony strength, and one most neglected by beekeepers, is to make sure the hives are heavy with stores in the fall, so that they emerge from overwintering already strong early in the spring" --The How-To-Do-It book of Beekeeping, Richard Taylor
"The feeding of bees for stimulating brood-rearing in early spring is now looked upon by many as of doubtful value. Especially is this true in the Northern States, where weeks of warm weather are often followed by 'Freeze up.' The average beekeeper in the average locality will find it more satisfactory to feed liberally in the fall-- enough, at least so that there shall be sufficient stores until harvest. If the hives are well protected, and the bees well supplied with an abundance of sealed stores, natural brood rearing will proceed with sufficient rapidity, early in the spring without any artificial stimulus. The only time that spring feeding is advisable is where there is a dearth of nectar after the early spring flow and before the coming of the main harvest." --W.Z. Hutchinson, Advanced Bee Culture
"While it is often advocated that stimulative feeding be resorted to early, in order to build the colonies up to a sufficient strength, the author inclines to the belief that colonies in two stories will build up just as rapidly if there is an abundance of sealed honey in the hive, as is possible with stimulative feeding. Sometimes it seems that uncapping a portion of the honey has a stimulating effect, but feeding in small quantities, for the purpose of stimulating the bees to greater activity, rarely seems necessary..."--Frank Pellett, Practical Queen Rearing
My experiences with stimulative feeding.
I've tried about every combination over the years and my conclusion is that weather has everything to do with the success or failure of any stimulative feeding attempt. So some years it seems to help some, some years it misleads them into rearing too much brood too early when a hard freeze could be disastrous or having too much moisture in the hive in that precarious time of late winter when a hard freeze could still happen. Plus the really impressive results you get are usually from feeding a hive that is light in stores. Leaving more stores still seems to be a more reliable method of getting a lot of early brood in my climate.
Here in the North it not only makes it difficult to even do, but makes the results vary from disastrous to remarkable. The problem is that beekeeping has enough variables and I'm not interested in introducing more.
I will skip the what to feed issues and distill them down to my experience as relates to stimulating brood production and ignore the issues of honey vs sugar etc. which have already been talked to death.
I have fed really thin (1:2) thin (1:1) moderate (3:2) and thick (2:1) syrup at every time of the year except a honey flow, but again to simplify the issue to stimulating brood rearing, let's stick with the spring.
I see no difference in brood stimulation between any of the ratios. The bees will suck it down if it's warm enough (and here it seldom is) and it will induce them sometimes to start brood rearing when the bee's common sense is that it is too early. So for simplifying even further, let's just talk about feeding or not feeding syrup.
Difficulty getting bees to take syrup early (and late) in Northern climates:
If you try to feed any kind of syrup to bees in my climate in the late winter or early spring, the results USUALLY are that they will not take it. The reason is that the syrup is hardly ever above 50 F. At night it is somewhere between freezing and sub zero. In the daytime it's usually not above freezing on those rare occasions when it's actually 50 F in the daytime, the syrup is still below 32 F from the night before. So first of all, trying to feed syrup in the late winter and Early spring usually doesn't work at all, meaning they won't even take it.
Down sides to success:
Then, if you get lucky and get some warm spell somewhere in there that stays warm enough long enough for the syrup to get warm enough that the bees will take it, you manage to get them rearing a huge amount of brood, lets' say near the end of February or early March, and then you get a sudden sub zero freeze that lasts for a week and all of the hives that were so induced to raise brood, die trying to maintain that brood. They die because they won't leave it and they die because they can't keep it warm, but they try anyway. We could get a hard freeze (10 or below F) anywhere up to the end of April, and last year we did get one in mid April as did most of the country.
Our record low, here in the warmest part of Nebraska in February is -25 F. In March it's -19 F. In April it's 3 F. In May it's 25F. Having freezing weather in May is normal here. I've seen snow storms on May 1st. So I seriously doubt, not only the efficacy of feeding syrup, but if you can get it to work, the wisdom of stimulating brood rearing ahead of what is normal for the bees anyway.
This might be an entirely different outcome in one year than another year. Certainly if your gamble pays off and you get the bees to brood up in March and you manage to keep them from swarming in April or May (doubtful), don't get any hard freezes that kill some of the hives off, or they are built up so far by the time those freezes hit that they can manage, and you manage to keep that max population for the flow in mid June, maybe you'll get a bumper crop. On the other hand, you get them to brood up heavy in March, get a subzero freeze that lasts a week and most of them die, it's a very different outcome.
In a different climate, this might be an entirely different undertaking. If you live where subzero is unheard of, and clusters don't get stuck on brood from cold and can't get to stores, then the results of stimulative feeding may be much more predictable and much more positive.